Join the vinyl revolution with our tips and top turntables
Vinyl is well and truly back in fashion – with 2 million LPs sold last year. We reveal the tech you need to get the best from your records…
14 Jul 2016
Audiophiles, trendy youngsters and vintage types are flocking to vinyl by everyone from David Bowie and Stone Roses to Fleetwood Mac and the indie glitterati.
With more than 2 million LPs sold last year, vinyl is most definitely back.
But what do you need to get involved?
The vinyl revolution… what’s going on?
Sales of vinyl records have been steadily rising for the past decade almost – so it’s no flash-in-the-pan.
Last year even saw the introduction of a specific vinyl albums top 40 chart. The current chart is populated by a mix of old and new – Rumours by Fleetwood Mac alongside Adele’s 25.
In 2015 we bought 2.1 million vinyl LPs, according to industry body the BPI. This was up 64% and the highest it had been for 21 years.
Why vinyl? Analogue in a digital world
In the ‘90s when the CD was king, detractors criticised vinyl for how easy it scratched or snapped.
So what’s brought it back en-vogue?
Some experts say it’s a reaction against streaming among younger people. Increasingly digital music has become the norm – first iTunes and then Spotify.
Everyone loves Spotify. It puts an incredible catalogue of music at our fingertips. On our laptops, phones and wireless speakers. It’s accessible, convenient and has millions of subscribers.
But perhaps there’s something lost in the fact this music isn’t a physical thing? You can’t hold an MP3. You can on the other hand hold a vinyl LP – the feel of it between your fingers, the album artwork and the record’s grooves.
Perhaps people feel more connected to the music? Or love the retro, scratchy sound? The pattern of sitting down and listening to side 1 and then side 2 as an event, rather than skipping from song to song, artist to artist.
Rather than using one or the other, many music lovers flit between streaming and vinyl. Often using their Spotfiy account for listening on the go, researching and discovering new bands and sound-tracking parties. The albums and artists they really love are then bought on vinyl to listen to on their turntable.
How to get started?
Beginning a vinyl collection is a daunting task – here are a few ideas for getting under way.
1. Replace your favourite CDs: why not review your CD collection to pick out your 10 favourite, most-listened-to albums and then start by replacing those 1 by 1 with vinyl versions.
2. Hit the car boots: Charity shops and car boot sales can unearth some real vinyl treasures – often for pennies. It’s a great way to fill a Sunday morning or Saturday afternoon.
3. Review the charts: There’s an official vinyl albums chart that shows the best-selling records of the month. It mixes new releases and reissues. Great source of inspiration.
4. Sell your CDs: If you have decided to become an all-out vinyl enthusiast then perhaps you could raise some cash selling your CDs? There are well-known online services that’ll collect your CDs after you’ve scanned the barcodes using a simple app.
5. Buy a turntable: The most important point. You can’t listen to records without a record player or turntable. Look for something that combines the right features with a low price, in case your vinyl revival is short-lived. Such as:
Audio Technica AT-LP60
In a nutshell: Entry-level turntable from a brand with kudos among home audio enthusiasts
Home audio enthusiasts know all about Audio-Technica – they’ve been manufacturing turntables for decades and even have a pair of headphones called ‘Audiophile’.
So if you’re after something with kudos from those in the know, this is a good place to start. The Audio Technica AT-LP60 combines solid build quality, home audio credibility and a low price.
It’s a fully featured turntable with a built-in phono preamp (converts the output signal so you don’t need a separate amp).
With it you can…
- Play 7-inch singles and 12-inch LP albums
- Be up and running in minutes with simple instructions
- Connect to Hi-Fi speakers through an external amp for big, beefy home audio set up
- Or connect to speakers without a separate amp
- Hook up to multi-room Sonos speakers or a Bluetooth speaker (provided they have analogue inputs)
- Create digital versions of your LPs by connecting your laptop with the USB connection
- Forget about unsteady hands – the arm lowers onto the vinyl automatically. Just hit the Start button
- Replace the stylus if needed – Audio Technica diamond styluses are known for their quality though
Want to see more options? Check out our turntables